The COVID-19 pandemic has pummelled Canada’s automobile industry but it’s the lack of supply that’s helping to short-circuit electric vehicle adoption across the country.
Electric vehicle sales plunged along with gasoline-fuelled models in the second quarter of the year, when dealerships joined widespread lockdowns to prevent the virus’s spread. As the economy reopens, consumers are starting to return to auto showrooms — but finding an electric vehicle continues to be a problem, especially outside Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario.
A series of roadblocks are contributing to the shortfall, including battery shortages and manufacturers prioritizing shipments to China and Europe rather than North America. It’s exacerbating difficulties that already existed.
“It’s pretty challenging,” says Jeff Turner, senior research lead at Dunsky and author of a recent report for Transport Canada that found two-thirds of Canadian dealerships didn’t have any electric vehicles in stock before the virus struck.
Supply shortages are a global challenge and the distribution of vehicles isn’t even across Canada. Few EVs are available outside three provinces, making it difficult to attract new converts.
There were 3,453 electric vehicles available at Canadian dealerships in February, down 21 per cent from December 2018. Quebec led with 1,944, followed by B.C. at 692, Ontario with 536, Alberta with 164, Manitoba 36, Saskatchewan 26, Nova Scotia 22, New Brunswick 21. There were eight electric vehicles available for sale in Newfoundland and Labrador and just four in Prince Edward Island.
The disparity in part is due to a wide difference in provincial financial incentives, which are intended to help increase consumer interest. As well, some dealerships have been reluctant to add EVs because of the added costs for consumer education, battery-charging infrastructure and the loss of potential service and repair revenues.
British Columbia and Quebec’s shortage problems eased for a few months 2018 after the Ontario government cancelled its rebate program. That prompted manufacturers to move inventory to these leading EV provinces to meet the mandates of laws requiring minimum sales. (B.C. and Quebec both offer rebate programs for electric vehicles.)
“They’re focusing that inventory in those provinces where they have targets to meet and so that’s what’s certainly contributed to some of the challenges in those other provinces that have slim pickings right now for EV shoppers,” Turner said in an interview.
Even so, demand has outstripped supply in Quebec, resulting in waits that range from several months to a year. Long wait lists can be an impediment to sales, especially for drivers coming off leases, says Daniel Breton, CEO of Electric Mobility Canada.
On top of that, salespeople are showing some reluctance to push EV sales. After losing income for a few months because dealerships were closed for months early during the coronavirus, they’re not eager to make a sale that would see them wait months for payment-on-delivery commissions, Breton said.
Among manufacturers feeling pressure is Toyota, which launched its new RAV4 Prime SUV last month only in Quebec. It’s a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in the popular SUV category that has an electric range of about 68 kilometres and uses gas for longer trips.
“We’re starting in Quebec because we know that’s where the highest level of demand is, but it’s rolling out across the country,” said Toyota Canada vice-president Stephen Beatty.
Some vehicles will be available in B.C. by the end of the year or early 2021 with other provinces getting the plug-in hybrid by the end of 2021. Toyota knew supply would be tight because there are waiting lists for other versions of the popular RAV4.
Predicting market dynamics is especially difficult this year because of COVID-related dealership closures and disrupted industry supply chains, said Beatty.
“You will see much improved inventories as we move into next year,” he said, adding that the company expects electrified vehicles — hybrids, plug-ins and fuel cells — will account for 40 per cent of sales in Canada by 2025, up from 20 per cent last month and 10 per cent in the last decade.
Beatty noted the global shortage of batteries, but said the industry is on the verge of a significant shift in battery chemistry.
“Manufacturers are generally throughout the supply chain being cautious about over-investing in current technology when they see new types of batteries with much higher energy density and better pricing two, three years out.”
Electric Mobility Canada is urging the federal government to boost its $5,000 financial incentive to $6,999 for SUVs and pickup trucks. It also wants to see federal incentives for people to purchase used EVs, which is offered in Quebec.
Although Ontario shed its incentive for new cars, residents are eligible for a private incentive of $1,000 from Plug’n Drive for those who buy a used EV and another $1,000 to those who also dispose of their gas vehicle, said Cara Clairman, CEO of the group. The incentive was provided for more than 500 used cars purchased since April 2019.
The political environment has also changed from a year ago when there were large marches around the world regarding climate change, making the topic front-of-mind for many consumers.
“It was a big deal. This year there is so much focus on COVID and kids going back to school; how is it going to happen, is a second wave going to hit us, so I can understand if some (people’s) heads are not into this as much as they could have been,” Electric Mobility’s Breton said.
Clairman said she expects supply issues and the current bottleneck will be corrected over the next year or so. She’d also like to see a federal mandate that would require minimum sales of electric vehicles across the country, even though automakers aren’t big fans of such a move.
Clairman added that she’s optimistic that EV sales will bounce back after falling by 50 per cent in the second quarter.
“There has been a lull but I’m optimistic it’s going to really pick up for the rest of the year.”
Quibi app to shut down – Entertainment News – Castanet.net
Photo: Adriana M. Barraza/WENN
Movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile streaming service, Quibi, is shutting down, six months after it launched with original series and films featuring Anna Kendrick and Sophie Turner.
Katzenberg and his partner Meg Whitman are expected to confirm their decision to wind down the short-form video service this week after speaking with investors, according to Deadline.
The service launched in April just after COVID-19 shut down Hollywood.
Initial pay-to-view items on the service included projects directed by heavyweights Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, and Antoine Fuqua, while Kendrick’s series Dummy and Kiefer Sutherland’s remake of The Fugitive became quick hits. The service also produced the Emmy-winning series #FreeRayshawn.
Quibi is shutting down just six months after launching – MobileSyrup
Surprise: Quibi is dead.
Quibi, a short form mobile-focused video streaming service that struggled to find an audience amid a global pandemic where many people are working from home, is shutting down, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Given the platform was available for only six months, this makes it one of the shortest-lived streaming services ever.
Several factors likely played into Quibi’s untimely demise, including that a mobile-focused streaming service doesn’t make sense when people are home, that none of its content was really compelling enough to attract returning subscribers, and the fact that you can watch short-form video content on platforms like YouTube and TikTok entirely for free.
It’s unclear what will happen to Quibi’s lineup of celebrity-filled content. The Information initially reported co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is also the former Walt Disney Studios chairman, attempted to sell Quibi’s content to Facebook and NBCUniversal, but ultimately failed.
Quibi launched in Canada on April 6th for $6.99 per month for a subscription tier that featured ads and $9.99 per month to remove ads. The platform forged a partnership with Bell that included exclusive sports and news content from CTV News and TSN. Bell’s Quibi initiatives will likely be cancelled entirely. MobileSyrup has reached out to Bell for more information.
It’s also worth noting the report of Quibi’s shutdown comes just two days after Bell Media president Randy Lennox announced that he’s departing the company. Lennox was reportedly the driving force behind Bell’s investment in Quibi.
Quibi allowed viewers to watch content in both landscape and portrait mode. While the platform was initially off to a strong start, it struggled to keep subscribers around after it’s free trial ended. Some reports indicated that Quibi lost 92 percent of its early users following the end of the platform’s free trial.
Notable content included Let’s Roll with Tony Greenhand, a show about a man that rolls ornate marijuana spliffs for celebrities, Bad Ideas with Adam Devine, 50 States of Fright, Chrissy’s Court with Chrissy Teigen and several more.
For a complete list of Quibi’s content, follow this link.
It remains unclear when Quibi will remain operational until or what will happen to users that have paid a subscription fee. MobileSyrup has reached out for more information from Quibi.
Update 10/21/2020 6:43pm: Quibi has confirmed that it’s shutting down in a press release. It says that “following the company’s wind down and satisfaction of all liabilities, the remaining funds will be returned to its investors as specified in the company’s operating agreement. ”
“We have assembled a world-class creative and engineering team that has created an original platform fueled by groundbreaking technology and IP, enabling consumers to view premium content in a whole new way. The world has changed dramatically since Quibi launched and our standalone business model is no longer viable. I am deeply grateful to our employees, investors, talent, studio partners and advertisers for their partnership in bringing Quibi to millions of mobile devices,” said Katzenberg in the press release.
Quibi says that it’s working with “legal and financial advisors” to “identify a suitable buyer or buyers for its assets.”
Regarding subscribers, Quibi says that it’s sending out notifications regarding the final date they will be able to access the platform.
Further, Bell says that it’s “in touch with Quibi management and discussing next steps.”
Source: The Wall Street Journal
WestJet to start refunding flights cancelled amid COVID-19 pandemic
WestJet is the first Canadian airline to provide cash refunds for all flights. It had previously offered refunds for specific flights only, with future flight credit available for the majority of cancelled flights.
In an emailed statement, the airline said starting Monday, Nov. 2, eligible passengers will be contacted “proactively,” a process that will start with those whose flights were cancelled by the airline at the start of the pandemic, starting with trips booked for March.
“The refund process is expected to take six to nine months to work through eligible requests,” WestJet said.
The airline said it also expects an “administrative backlog” as the process gets underway, and asked customers to be patient, and wait to be contacted rather than contacting the airline themselves.
Those looking for refunds for trips booked through WestJet Vacations are asked to continue following the process already in place.
“We are an airline that has built its reputation on putting people first,” WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said in a news release.
“We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this COVID-19 world, they are looking for reassurance on two fronts: the safest possible travel environment; and refunds.
“We have been delivering on a safe environment through our Safety Above All program since the onset of the pandemic and as of Monday, Nov. 2, we will proactively provide refunds to original form of payment to itineraries cancelled by WestJet and Swoop.”
In a blog post on the WestJet website, Sims said the airline has been faced with a 95 per cent drop in demand, adding that for 72 days in a row, cancellations outnumbered bookings — a first in the company’s 25-year history.
Now, bookings are once again higher than cancellations, WestJet said, but still not on par with what they were before the pandemic hit.
More than 140 of WestJet’s 181 planes are currently parked, Sims said, and more than 4,000 employees have been laid off.
The airline also suspended its service in Atlantic Canada earlier this month, citing the coronavirus pandemic as making the service “unviable.”
— With files from The Canadian Press
Source: – Global News
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